China's World Cup hope rekindled with 1-0 victory over South Korea

2017-03-23 14:39:40 GMT2017-03-23 22:39:40(Beijing Time) Xinhua English
China's Yu Dabao (L) celebrates his goal with Wang Yongpo during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualification match against South Korea in Changsha, central China's Hunan province, March 23, 2017. (Xinhua/Kong Hui) China's Yu Dabao (L) celebrates his goal with Wang Yongpo during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualification match against South Korea in Changsha, central China's Hunan province, March 23, 2017. (Xinhua/Kong Hui)
South Korea's Hwang Hee Chan (C) challenges China's goalkeeper Zeng Cheng during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualification match in Changsha, central China's Hunan province, March 23, 2017. China won 1-0. (Xinhua/Li Ga) South Korea's Hwang Hee Chan (C) challenges China's goalkeeper Zeng Cheng during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualification match in Changsha, central China's Hunan province, March 23, 2017. China won 1-0. (Xinhua/Li Ga)
China's Wu Xi (R) and South Korea's Hong Jeongho vie for the ball during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualification match in Changsha, central China's Hunan province, March 23, 2017. China won 1-0. (Xinhua/Li Ga) China's Wu Xi (R) and South Korea's Hong Jeongho vie for the ball during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualification match in Changsha, central China's Hunan province, March 23, 2017. China won 1-0. (Xinhua/Li Ga)
Team China greet their fans after the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualification match against South Korea in Changsha, central China's Hunan province, March 23, 2017. China won 1-0. (Xinhua/Cao Can) Team China greet their fans after the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualification match against South Korea in Changsha, central China's Hunan province, March 23, 2017. China won 1-0. (Xinhua/Cao Can)
China's head coach Marcello Lippi (C) and goalkeeper Zeng Cheng attend the press conference after the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualification match between China and South Korea in Changsha, central China's Hunan province, March 23, 2017. China won 1-0. (Xinhua/Ding Xu) China's head coach Marcello Lippi (C) and goalkeeper Zeng Cheng attend the press conference after the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualification match between China and South Korea in Changsha, central China's Hunan province, March 23, 2017. China won 1-0. (Xinhua/Ding Xu)

CHANGSHA, China, March 23 (Xinhua) -- China's hope to qualify for the 2018 World Cup has been rekindled as Italian coach Marcello Lippi led Team Dragon to a 1-0 home win here on Thursday.

Yu Dabao headed in the Wang Yongpo corner in the 34th minute to give China the first win in six matches at the third phase of the World Cup Asian Zone qualifiers.

"We were under great pressure before the game and now we have laid a good foundation with the three points," said Yu. "It has always been crucial to grasp whatever chances you have and thank the coach so much for believing in me."

The victory temporarily moved China out of the bottom of the 6-team Group A where Iran stands atop with 11 points from five matches, ahead of South Korea on 10. Uzbekistan sits in third with nine and Syria is fourth with eight. Qatar lies bottom of group after five matches.

With four games left, China, collecting five points in the provisional fifth place, still has chance to earn a qualification ticket. The top two in Group A and Group B will advance to Russia 2018 directly after a home-and-away round-robin, while the third-place finishers from both groups will clash in a playoff with the winner going on to face the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF zone for a berth.

China took the lead after 34 minutes when Wang's inward curving corner found Yu at the near post, where the Beijing Guo'an striker glanced a precise header into the bottom-right corner.

Before halftime, Ji Dongwon was the visitor' most dangerous player, who had two shots both narrowly off target.

There were worrying times after the re-start for the host when goalkeeper Zeng Cheng made several brilliant saves to deny close shots from Ki Sungyueng and Ji Dongwon.

More than 30,000 fans cheered non-stop for their home team in the 95 minutes at He Long Stadium, where China improved their unbeaten record with five wins and four draws since 2005.

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